Do You Prefer eBooks or ‘Real’ Books?

Earlier this month, on February 3rd to be exact, I published a post here: Sitting Pretty on a Shelf in a Bookshop, to tell the world about the fact that one of Britain’s 50 best independent bookshops, The Bookcase (Lowdham, Nottingham, UK) is currently stocking my debut historical memoir, Sliding on the Snow Stone.

In doing so, I unintentionally opened up a debate about books – specifically whether readers prefer eBooks or ‘real’ books. Several visitors to my blog read the post and made comment, some expressing preferences, others with general observations. Some strong opinions came forth, and it developed into a lively discussion. Many expressed their affection for ‘real’ books, but one or two swept away that sentimentality by pointing out the versatility of eBooks.

I tried to analyse the comments to come up with a score, which wasn’t easy because the discussion sometimes veered off down different avenues, but by applying a measure of even-handedness, I reckon it was roughly 17 to 12 in favour of ‘real’ books.

But, I thought it would be interesting to take it a stage further and poll more visitors to this blog and extend the debate, if possible. After all, with the digital age taking over our lives in so many respects, do we embrace the eBook, or do we remain sentimental about the ‘magic’ of ‘real’ books? With eBooks now carving away a large slice of the book market, do we, as writers and readers, need to accept eBooks or remain true to ‘real’ books?

If I was on a desert island, an eBook would give me a whole library to read – until the battery ran out. Then I’d be left with nothing. But a ‘real’ book would remain – and I guess it would have to be a ‘Complete Works of . . .’ to keep me sane.

So, to further this research, please complete the following poll, and feel free to ‘share’ it so a wide range of votes can be collected. Comments are welcome of course.

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137 thoughts on “Do You Prefer eBooks or ‘Real’ Books?

    1. I prefer ebooks. I have a very lightweight e-ink ereader, kept in its very lightweight case with stand. When I prop the e-reader in its case with stand, on my chest while lying down flat on my back in bed, it is sheer heaven.

      I live in walking distance to the public library, but the books always seem so heavy and dusty (and sometimes even dirty!). They don’t really enable me to prop down as lazily as I like to do with my ereader in bed. I’m addicted to the lightweight e-ink reading experience. If the ebook in question focusses on color pictures, I’ll read it on my 10″ tablet (I also use the 10″ tablet to browse websites and blogs). And of course my IPhone is there too (I find it rather small) – I use my iPhone to browse blogs and websites and don’t read any ebooks on it.

      I have at least four library cards, whose ebook collections I access regularly. One of them is an out-of-state card I renew regularly for a nominal charge (nominal considering how many ebooks I get from it!).

      1. I love me e-reader and it is best for when I am traveling. That is a good point about the comfortability when reading on a e-reader.

        You are lucky in that you have access to a great quality of e-books from your local library. My library only has limited titles and so more often than not I am purchasing my e-books.

  1. From an aspiring author’s point of view, ebooks are great because I can bypass the publishing gatekeepers and deliver my work directly to consumers for a lower price.

    As a reader, I still prefer ebooks with two exceptions: the lack of page numbers and the inability to flip through pages the way I like to.

    I say we can embrace the ebook AND remain sentimental since they aren’t mutually exclusive. An interesting alternative to embracing ebooks would be rising up against the digital overlords and reclaiming literature in the name of the paperback and hardcover!
    :P

    1. Thanks, Mike. The digital age certainly has opened up opportunities for writers to self-publish their material and have complete control. Which is great. Your final scenario is a wonderful premise – might make a good sub-plot, or a TV mini-series.

  2. I think I currently prefer real books because I like the physical form, the book itself, the cover etc. I’m much the same preferring CDs to downloads (well that and the quality is better, but thats another thing entirely). There is the issue of course with physical books taking up a lot of space but then I like to look at the book shelves. Also if I have a physical book I can give it to someone else to read e.g. my wife, where as on an ebook, I’m not sure how I would do that.

    I imagine ebooks are much more convenient when travelling though, e.g. on holiday or on the train to work.

    1. I know what you mean, although my experience of ereaders is very limited. If visitors come to your house and browse through your books, they get to know you, and vice versa. A great way to connect.

      1. I’ve not used ereaders much either. I suppose if I was using e.g. an iPad, it would be useful to switch between wordpress to an ereader, so I might have a different opinion then.

      2. Hmm. It’s a blessing AND a curse. Surely, like me, many writers must find having the internet available when trying to write can become a distraction. I think it was today when I read somewhere that the iPad doesn’t display pictures when operating as an ereader. Don’t quote me on that – I was surfing away in a bit of a maze.

    2. I thought you said ‘I think I currently prefer real books because I’m in the physical form’…I suddenly thought of you being in some kind of digital form and wondered if I was dreaming again…

  3. The e-book has given the read a chance to read work that might not have been published otherwise. I’ve read a couple already that are only available in e-book format. I’ve really enjoyed them so I would have missed out otherwise. I do like a proper book, but I find I can read the ebook longer.

  4. It all depends on the book, really. I cannot nor will I ever read Tolkien in anything other than printed book form, and there are several other classic texts that I must read in printed form, but most other books for me are e-books. If I see a movie on Netflix or TV that says in the first few frames “Based on the novel…”, I stop right there and pull out my Kindle to see if there is an e-book version before I ever see the film.

    1. A great way to cross-reference, And I think more and more books ARE being written primarily for the eBook market. I guess it all means more choice for the reader, and more opportunities for writers.

  5. Found your blog after you found my Travel (RadJams) blog. :) I can’t take your poll because i happen to like both equally. I love my Kindle for when I travel, but when it comes to favorite authors, cookbooks, nonfiction, classics – I’d much rather have the physical book to hold in my hands and display on my shelf. Congratulations on your novel!

    1. Thanks, Deb. I did wonder whether I should put ‘both’ as an option, but decided not to, too much choice can be a bad thing. This whole discussion is proving to be quite enlightening – thanks for your contribution!

  6. I much prefer a ‘real’ book, but very much appreciate the convenience of the ebook. I’m convinced that, as technology improves, the ebook experience will become much more interactive; some apps already allow readers to ‘flip’ the electronic pages, with accompanying sound. There are already projects under way which I believe will revolutionise the ebook in particular, although I fervently hope that the ‘real’ book does not suffer as a consequence.

    1. Thanks Johanna. The ‘apps’ thing is something that has passed me by pretty much, apart from recently when on Facebook, I found myself spammed by a weight loss product. Getting rid of my (few) apps resolved the spam. Maybe the point I’m making is that paper is completely reliable.

  7. I like my favorite books in paper format, but I’ve began the habit of reading those classics that are in the public domain on my e-reader. I rather like bringing the vast library of works with me when I leave the house.

  8. I vote for paper books, and I must disagree with the perception that it’s about sentimentality (“do we remain sentimental about the ‘magic’ of ‘real’ books?”). Books are a proven technology that e-readers only mimic, but do *not* supersede. If you take away the tablet features of an e-reader, a paper book does everything an e-reader does with one exception: With an e-reader you can take many – even hundreds – of books with you when you leave the house. I only ever read one book at a time. If I’m going away and think I’ll finish with one book, I’ll take a second one. Being able to carry around hundreds of books is not a selling point for me. If you start including multimedia features, or “enhanced versions” of books, you are really comparing apples and oranges: a book and a tablet computer. Two different things.

    But here’s the real issue for me: Cell phones, tablets, and laptops, use a variety of rare metals and minerals. The mining of these raw materials has quite an impact on the environment, and, as they are rare, might very well run out sooner rather than later. I know that the production of paper books can also be toxic to the environment. However, paper books can be produced in a way that has less impact on the environment than the production of e-readers (a new version of which comes out ever year or so).

    So for me, it’s paper books. They’ve been around for hundreds of years, and I’m confident that they will be around for many years to come.

  9. I really love and prefer “real” books. There is nothing that will ever take the place of the feel or smell of real books. I also love holding the book, actually turning the pages, and putting some kind of book mark to hold my spot or several if I’ve found really good information. Now, I am coming around to ebooks, as I like the ability to have so much information in such a small compact device. I love to read and it allows me to have a lot to choose from without having to carry several books with me at once.

  10. I read both ebooks and paperbacks, though I find my Kindle much more convenient for travel. I don’t much care for the reference to ‘real’ books as ebooks are ‘real’ books, just in another form.

    1. Thanks for pointing that out Linda, of course it was only to make quite a crude distinction and ‘real’ felt more concise than saying hardback/paperback every time. As you and others say, it’s all stories and information – that’s the most important thing.

  11. When I’m traveling, ebooks are awesome. But in the comfort of my own home or on a daily commute, nothing beats a real book. I like turning the pages. I like having page numbers. I like the smell of the paper.

  12. I’ve just switched to a Kindle and reading up the free classics I have missed over the years. Yes I love books but in the last twenty four hours I have downloaded the works of Robert Burns and Emily Dickinson and to be able to have such works in my hand when I’m stuck on a train is wonderful. I will soon have all my favourite writers available – assuming my battery holds out – whenever I want them. That is quite something :-)

    1. Thanks for that, and if you can, please cast a vote – ebooks are behind and need all the votes they can get. Which kindle did you get BTW? I’m veering towards the basic £89 model, because the screen size is the same, but the overall size of the unit is smaller, and I’m not so bothered about 3G, because I spend far too much time on the web as it is.

  13. I got the £89 one and it’s great. Having on-line dictionary note making etc all good. You use your own wireless in the house for downloading books which is very easy to do. I haven’t voted as it is not a simple yes/no. If my draft novel gets picked up yes I want to see it on a shelf. Who wouldn’t! If it doesn’t I’m going down the e-publishing route. I need a ‘both’ button :-)

  14. Ebooks all the way! I am an avid reader and have nowhere to store all of these books, especially since I read a lot of genre fiction. My Kindle is my one addiction. As one person commented earlier, I do miss page numbers. I love this and I’m going to reblog at lilybishop.com.

  15. Lately, I’ve been able to recognize the benefits of eBooks a little better. Even so, there’s just something about holding a good old real book in my hands. For me, reading a book electronically gives me a bit of a disconnected feeling; like it’s harder for me to get into the story. It’s something I get from a real book, but not really from an eBook. The last thing I want is for real books to disappear altogether; I think that would be a tremendous loss.

  16. This may not be answering the question but I’ve often wondered if we should not try and see what it is that real books can do that ebooks cannot, and vice-versa, without letting emotional attachment into the equation.
    I mean, I love what books carry, their words, the things that they can make me see in myself in others, but most of all how they’re there for anyone, they’re for me a symbol of liberation through thought (count of monte cristo kind of thing).
    But if we start making real books more valuable than ebooks simply because of an attachment to the object aren’t we perhaps forgetting or putting aside this characteristic of books?
    Wouldn’t this put real books at the same level as vinyl records, a sort of luxury for the eccentric?

    1. Undoubtedly, there is a difference in the reading experience (from what I can gather), but as you suggest, maybe we should celebrate those differences. Answering the question isn’t necessarily that important, but reflecting around the whole experience of reading is proving to be a powerful experience, for me anyway. It’s most definitely a Count of Monte Cristo thing. ‘Words as a symbol of liberation’ – I love it!

  17. I need both. But I admit I value the ‘real’ thing more. Somehow my memory of a book and the experience of reading it is never as vivid when electronic. I treasure my books and have lugged them around the world.

  18. It’s still the real thing for me. I love that physical connection to story. I understand the allure and convenience of electronics (my mother is LOVING her Kindle), but I like the weight in my hand, my fingerprints on the page, opportunity to recognize my own notes in the margin … I guess I like owning a book, a remote connection to owning the story itself.

    Thank you for your recent visit.

  19. I haven’t had time to read all the comments, so I don’t know if anyone else has raised the point, but ebooks are great for fiction, but have big drawbacks for non-fiction. I recently bought an ebook about how to be an independent publisher, which was a superb guide. But I couldn’t put tabs on important pages, or note the page number of important points. And if you mark up an ebook, the notes are kept in a separate file. I ended up having to make paper notes of the main points and recommended web sites. Very time-consuming.

  20. I have to say that I prefer the real thing. More from a money standpoint than anything else. I have shelves and shelves of books in my house, and I always go back and reread them again and again. Plus, they’re already here, so I don’t need to purchase anything.

      1. Nope, not on holiday. Just temporarily unemployed. I have a young son and a husband as well, so my free time is often limited. I read when I can.

      2. I hadn’t thought of it that way. You’re right. I guess that’s why most of us have content splattered everywhere on the web right?

  21. I am another in favor of real books, there is your hand like holding a book in your hand, the smell of the pages wafting up to your nose. However, there are good things about e-books. The almost limitless space, they are generally less expensive, and if they are on a nook or nook color they can be edited (which is great for research purposes) and it doesn’t mar the pages. I don’t generally like to write in my books, but it is more useful having the comments on the page than on some note card some place. But writing in a book degrades it, therefore e-books are very useful in this way.

  22. Andy, nice to “meet” you and thanks for stopping by my blog. I can’t answer the survey because along with some of the others who responded, my answer would be, “YES!!!” I’d love to have every book I love in my actual library (which is already rather extensive, aided by a stint of home schooling our girls through high school as well as being a bibliophile) as well as on my Kindle, so I could take them wherever I went without a problem. :-) For my thoughts on Kindles, feel free to visit again and read http://sustainabilitea.wordpress.com/2012/01/12/kindle/. Congratulations on your “real” book!!

    janet

  23. I am blind and think ebooks are wonderful. I read electronic books on my Kindle (using the text to speech facility) and on my Ipod and Ipad (using Apple’s voiceover which allows text to be read aloud). The overwhelming majority of books are not available in braille and audio versions of books are often abridged, consequently ebooks are ideal for blind readers. Having said that, if I could read print books I’d love to have shelves full of my favourite authors. There is something wonderful about the smell and feel of real books as opposed to ebooks. Kevin

  24. I read a lot of fiction ebooks, but find that for reference material I prefer paper. In the best of all possible worlds, I have both, one for searching, the other for referring and note taking. It’s a little like a car vs a subway; both get you where you need to go and there are reasons to use one over the other at different times.

    1. Nice comparison, PD. I’m with you on the reference material. I’ve just ordered a new thesaurus and am looking forward to its arrival – and although there are online facilities for this, they are unadventurous.

  25. Hi, Andy,

    I can’t answer your poll because I don’t know the answer yet. There’s nothing like walking around a book store and picking books off the shelves, peeling back the corners, or holding and smelling a book in bed. But I’m going to publish my current work in eBook format. I would have to choose both. This doesn’t help your poll results, though. I’m sorry.

    1. Hi Mary, the poll’s just a bit of fun really – it’s a very crude measure, but I wanted to eliminate any wooliness by not having a ‘both’ option or ‘don’t know’ option. The comments have been a revelation, and thanks to you for adding to that.

  26. There is something ritualistic about holding and turning the pages of a book with written words in front of you. Something that I believe can never truly be duplicated with an e-reader.

    Add to that standing in a library or a book store is to me like standing in a holy place.

    My vote is for real books.

  27. I’m only going to add to the fence-sitting, I’m afraid! Real books for longevity (which is why I voted for them in the poll) but ebooks for titles that I’m unlikely to read again ie. ‘disposable’ fiction. I always pass on those kind of books anyway so the only ones on my shelf are those I want to pick up again.

  28. I prefer a printed book, an E book just has not that same feel as a printed book. Besides I like to go to a bookstore or a library. Of course I order books on line as well. One book is not heavy when you travel. Sometimes you have a nice discussion with another traveler about the book you are reading at that time. I don’t have an E reader and I’m not planning to buy one.

    Ciao, Francina

  29. I’ll try not to add to the fence sitting, but I think I agree with most of what I’ve seen so far. I love the smell of a new book, holding it and turning the pages. It’s almost a ritual like nanlt said. However, ebooks do have the advantage of being instantaneously available and more importantly – bulk-free.
    I’m currently studying overseas in Ireland and I’m trying to figure out what to do with the huge number of books I’ve accumulated so far. I like owning (well hoarding really) books and I don’t really want to give them away. I wouldn’t have this problem with ebooks you know?

  30. Whenever I go on holiday, weekend break, work trip, whatever, I take books with me and leave the ones I’m not going to re-read for the next occupants to enjoy. I believe in spreading the joy of reading around, but I couldn’t do this with an e-book. That’s not to say I won’t be getting an e-reader eventually, because I probably will. Another fence-sitter. Sorry! :-)

    1. Thanks Margaret. It’s getting busy on that fence! But you’re right, you can leave a book for someone else to enjoy, and they can be exchanged and passed around.

  31. I’ve had a go at reading books on an ereader but I’m afraid I’m always going to adore real books. There’s just something about them. It’s like sitting down with an old friend. And as well as that, you can get a book out at any time and not worry about someone trying to mug you for it, which is more than can be said for getting an iPad or an ereader out on the late night train home…

    Regards.
    Nicola

  32. I read only real books, for 2 reasons: 1) no money for an e-reader and 2) can’t read on a normal computer screen (although I like e-reader screens). I REALLY see the place for e-readers and e-books, though, as I have arthritis, and find holding even paperbacks open to be quite painful some days… and imagine being able to carry SO MANY books in your bag! What joy. but nothing will ever replace the beauty of the book as artefact, ever, for me.

  33. Alphabetic writing has been us for 5,000 years or so, seeing something in physical/print mediums is not something from which we can easily distance ourselves. The culture of the “book” is ingrained in our values and psyche. For now, researching massive amounts of data is easier to do with a large table, stacks of books, journals, etc. However a computer is still part of the mix.

    That being said, and this might be unconventional for a librarian, but I prefer my ebook (new iPad). The iPad will help me consume more books and comics than I have ever been able to in the past. The text and graphics are just as good as print if not better on the retina display, in that much of what we now digest are text/graphics born-digital. In 5-10 years I’d be willing to bet a large majority will favor ebooks.

    1. Yes – see the links on my Home/About page. I strive to reach a big a readership as possible, so the eBooks are important. But, the people who I come into contact on a daily basis, i.e family and friends, prefer to buy the paperback (if they’re interested), with perhaps only a handful even owning eReaders. Interesting times.

      1. That’s very interesting to know, I’ll go and investigate your pages further. I’m writing a book myself and have been wondering about bringing out an ebook as well as a paperback. I’m self-publishing so I might try the paperback first and then, if I find there’s any demand for it, look into ebooks as well. There’s just so much to learn about publishing and it’s not getting any simpler!

  34. Soz, didn’t take part in the poll, I’m sitting on the fence, love books and love ebooks – maybe ‘embrace the eBook’ and in a sense ‘remain sentimental about the ‘magic’ of ‘real’ books’ begins to unpack the complexity of feelings – yet I do appreciate your desert island comment :)

  35. I much prefer real books – the experience, the smell. I’m having some health problems that make reading really difficult so e-books are a better option, but I just can’t wrap my mind around them. So I just don’t read. I thought about getting a kindle. But I’m sure it doesn’t smell half as good as an old musty book. I was ok with reading on my phone when it let me have a black background and white words, but then it updated itself and no longer lets me do that. I want to read real books again.

  36. I’ve always loved ‘real’ books, the smell, the feel, the memories paper always seems to stir. However, I’ve done a great deal of moving and traveling in my life. I’m currently in South Korea for a year and have been lucky enough to have a kindle in my suitcase. The amount of room I saved in my luggage that could have been taken up by books is astonishing.

    So while I still love libraries, opening and feeling books, and having one in my hands, I’m also an advocate for the use of an e-reader.

  37. It might be interesting to ask the new generation, the one that didn’t grow up with real books. The new generation uses real books at school but rely on short messages for communication.

  38. I find it nearly impossible to edit my own stuff, even, until in print. I hate reading a screen, paper just feels good, comfort-touch! Best! ~KL

  39. Hi, Andy – I prefer hardcover & paperback books over ebooks not necessarily for their readability. I find both to be on par with each other in readability for slightly different reasons. Ebooks always weigh the same amount, no matter how long the book, plus I can adjust the size of the type if needed. ‘Real’ books allow me to flip back and forth more easily between different sections. The edge goes to ‘real’ books due to my job as a museum manager. There’s no need to migrate data from a ‘real’ book in order to keep it accessible over time. Once energy has gone into creating a ‘real’ book, it can be read whenever, no other electrical energy necessary. Not so with ebooks. Once you’re out of power, that’s it.

  40. I have an e reader which I love, but if a book really makes an impression I go out and buy the hardcover for my bookshelf. I have a bit of an addiction and books on the shelf seem to replace art on the wall in my home…

  41. While there is nothing like the smell, the feel of a traditionally printed book, I have become an eBook convert. Not just as an eBook author, but as a reader. I can carry an entire research library for my current WIP with me anywhere without back strain and can make notes as I go along. I will never completely abandon my print library but I do love my Kindle, iPad and Smartphone with my kindle app along for the ride.

    Donica

  42. In my professional life as a professor, I have basically abandoned paper books except that many students insist on having a textbook to buy for each course I teach … though many now are downloading pdf versions when they can find them. For my home library, the last dozen or so books I have bought have been eBook downloads for the Kindle reader on my MacBook.

  43. I prefer print books. However, I do own an e-reader, which I find very useful especially when traveling. I never buy e-books. Instead, I borrow them from the library. Of course, I actually borrow most books I read, only buying authors I know and love, which I read again and again (and again and again and … well, you get the idea).

    Many people say this is a generational thing, and perhaps it is, but what I find interesting is that college students still prefer print. (See article here: http://infodocket.com/2012/03/15/two-studies-british-university-students-still-crave-print-over-ebooks-us-tablet-ownership-amongst-students/ ).

    I know my daughter and her friends (all seniors in high school, off to college this fall) also prefer print. So maybe it’s the generations in-between that are the big ebook readers.

    Personally, I look upon ereaders and ebooks as just another format. As a librarian, I work with many formats of books — regular print, large print, audiobooks, downloadable audiobooks, and now e-books. Really, they’re all just variations of the same thing. I just wish the publishing industry could get their act together on how they should be priced and marketed!

    1. Notes from the front line – valuable material. Thanks Kym. Somehow, eBooks feel like a dumbing down – many writers sell them cheaply, or give them away for free, and I personally think this leads to a feeding frenzy for ereader owners who stockpile titles to read. Nothing wrong with that in many ways, but it moves away from a considered and careful choice.

      1. There’s nothing wrong in giving a something away to ultimately make money, but pricing books so low can lead readers to expect prices to always be that low. In reality, you often get what you pay for. Sure, e-books are cheaper than print, but people often overlook the cost of properly editing and marketing a book. I am an as-yet-unpublished writer, and I know I certainly wouldn’t want to put anything I’ve written out there without the aid of an experienced editor.
        Still, that’s leading into a discussion on self-publishing, which is a whole ‘nother issue.

      2. Many print books are badly produced and edited – and published using sub-standard materials. The eBook phenomena is interesting. I only know a couple of ereader owners – one of them claims to never have paid for a book, he uses filesharing internet sites to download his reads – he isn’t concerned about having the latest books.
        I personally think the argument about quality is a red herring – I recently read The Art of Fielding and spotted more than one typo/omission. But, it’s a nicely packaged book, so it gets away with it.

      3. A completely error-free book is a difficult thing to achieve. Maybe that’s why publishers have ‘editions’. It’s the quality packaging that sets the big players apart from the rest – BUT, if the story is good, then no worries.

  44. I recently received a Kindle for my birthday; I’d been staunchly resisting the idea of e-readers since they came out, and vowed I would never own one.

    But I have to say, I like it, for several reasons:
    1. All the free books you can get, especially classics.
    2. I live in Kuwait and so ordering means it can take weeks for my books to arrive.
    3. Cheaper since when I order books, I have to pay shipping cost, which – to Kuwait – can be really high.

    I like the speed I get with Kindle.

    But at the same time, I know I will never stop buying “real” books; I love the way they feel in my hands, I love seeing my little notes in the margins and the dog-ears of love I give them, and yes, I love the way they smell.

    So, while e-readers make a lot of sense and can be extremely useful, books will still keep their magic :)

    (At least, I think so anyway)

  45. But half the fun (well, almost….) of a book is the new-book smell (or old book smell?) and the rustling of pages and the actually being able to stick your nose in the book versus just sticking it on the tablet and getting smudge marks on the screen

  46. Andy ~ Thanks for putting this post up. It’s a timely question and you’ve hit the target square. Here’s what I mean by that. When I moved to Maine three years ago I was purchasing ebooks for my Kindle. Then, in my small city of Portland, I grew to know the owners of our independent bookstore, Longfellows. It didn’t take me long to realize how important this bookstore, planted square in the middle of town, was to me and to the community. I put the Kindle away and have not used it since. The money I was sending to Amazon is now invested in my community and in a part of my community I deem to be the heart and soul, our bookstore.
    I’ve got a long trip next month, all told, 22 hours of flight time. I am loading my iPad with New Yorkers and a few other magazines. But the books will be analogue and I derive great pleasure knowing the dollars for those books are supporting my community.
    Thanks for the post. And congrats on the book!
    D

    1. Thanks Doug. I came so close to buying a kindle, but have resisted. I think it would end up in a drawer somewhere, neglected and forgotten by me. ‘Real’ books aren’t all that inconvenient, and I think a kindle would close me off from the world, maybe, whereas, the search for reading material, wherever I am, is an adventure I can embrace.

  47. This is almost like the controversial argument over which is best. Cake or pie. They’re both round, they both feed a person something sweet, but are two different things all together.

    I like both ebooks and real books, though like my cake and pie, they’re both actually ‘real’ or you couldn’t read them.

    Traditional Publishers lack common sense. If I was them, or at least in their shoes, I wouldn’t try and charge ‘twice’ for a slice of the similar treat. The physical pages of the book have a high end material cost. That is what should be paid for. At the back of the book should be a one time use code to redeem the same story in a popular ebook format off the publisher’s own website. Make that the only way to get the free ebook, is to buy the paperback. Once the one time code is used up, it’s finished and won’t work twice. It adds value to the ebook, so people would be less inclined to delete it and more inclined to add it to a backup device. If they want a second copy of the ebook, buy another paperback… etc.

    That won’t actually happen, of course. Why? It makes too much darned business sense. Instead, they charge the same amount for a digital copy that costs nothing to reproduce over and over, as they do a paperback that has an actual material cost to reproduce. People don’t like to pay twice, so they take sides. And when consumers have to chose one over the other, one side goes out of business. Unless they make the same story in two formats a mutual purchase, they will continue to panic. At least, that’s my 2 cents. ^_^

    1. eBooks aren’t real. They are electronic signals. The eReader is real, but an ugly bit of kit, unless you’ve got an iPad, but then you transform into a gibbering cyber-addict constantly purring about how great it is. Gimme a book anytime.

      1. Then by your common classification, all the software in your computer isn’t real, including Windows. Or even a Mac OS. If it’s digital, there’s no substance. I can understand the concept and feeling quite clearly. A digital program, any type, does have substance, but on a scale we cannot see. I can’t see bacteria anymore than I can see the electrons that makes a program possible. Both are still real. Both affect us on a daily basis, if we like it or not.

        I feel the disparity of the issue comes in the amount of substance of one versus another. I sell my paperbacks for more of course, than my ebooks of the same name. Take for instance, Defenders of Valinthia. You can buy and own the physical book in your hands. That’s a fairly massive size of atoms compared to the few thousand electrons it takes to form a byte. I am fair to my readers by charging $7 less for the ebook, as it takes virtually no effort to get it via a burst of electrons over copper wire.

        Regardless of the format – being it digitally simulated ink or pigmented ink on a thick slab of paper (compared to the electrons), the story itself remains the same. The images conjured in the imagination of the reader are the same. The world created by the author is still recreated in the mental sandbox of our intended audience.

        Both have the same effect, the same outcome when the last paragraph is read. So reality, as I like to view it, is served on both sides of this controversial isle.

        Then again, we are living in a world where reality is constantly being reorganized. Take for instance your shadow. You can see it. It has a shape. It has a size. But it doesn’t actually exist as there isn’t even an electron that forms it. No mass, no atomic weight, no nothing. So before our eyes on a daily basis is truly something that doesn’t exist, yet we see it all the time. If I see your shadow and say, “That’s your shadow,” you can honestly counter my claim with, “prove it.” Because I can’t prove something that doesn’t actually exist, even if its right before us, as big and bold as anything else.

        Compared to a shadow, electronic signals are fat, sassy and full of real vibrancy. Compared to a book, they may seem more of a phantom. But it’s actually not the case. ^_^

        I like you, Andy. Don’t take everything I say as a challenge. Sometimes I like to view an issue through a critical microscope, not to prove anybody right or wrong, but to hold the the comparison in our own tired and overused universe. I find such stuff fun to talk about. ^_^

      2. Thanks, Daniel, I feel uplifted (and challenged). The shadow is a good example, and I agree, these musings stimulate. I’m not so concerned about right or wrong. It’s more about passion I guess and ‘real’ in this sense is a crude descriptor.

  48. The best thing about ebooks are that they are cheaper, easier to carry around with you, and for some e-readers, you can read them in the dark without having to use a book light. If I really love a book though, I will still buy it in hardback.

  49. I like ebooks because they are cheaper, easier to take with you when traveling, and for some e-readers, you can read them in the dark without a book light. However, I still buy the books I love the most in hardback. So I guess I straddle the line with this issues.

  50. I love real books and when I have too many I do a cull and donate some to friends, charity and the local library to create more room on my shelves. I bought a Kindle for my mother as she has macular degeneration and cannot see to read without magnification – it’s opened up a whole new world again for her, but she did ask me why anyone with normal sight would want one!

  51. I have to side with analog books. I enjoy e-books and yes they are versatile, but analog books are more so. When I highlight or dog-ear a “real” book, I can almost ALWAYS find what I want to very quickly…”Oh, that was about half-way through…flip, flip, flip, ah, there it is”. E-books, hit or miss. Plus there’s the smell and weight of knowing your companion is there…e-books for portability, but analog for company!

    1. Thanks Dan. I was comtemplating buying an ereader, but have stalled. Analog/tree/’real’ books do it just fine for me, and I’m not fussed about reading quantity, I prefer to make each read a quality one.

  52. I definitely prefer real books. I don’t want to have to buy an e-reader so I’m stuck reading on my computer, which strains my eyes after a while. Besides, books are far more convenient for me at least because they don’t run out of power and have to be charged. I can take them to work and get plenty of my reading down on my lunch break. Besides, e-readers in a dusty, dirty hardware store? I don’t think so.

    The thing I like best about physical books is that there are no complications in passing them down in my own lifetime. Once I grow out of or grow tired of a series, I can just hand the books to my little sister. She doesn’t have to borrow an e-reader or buy her own to get them.

    You can make notes in books, leave things in books for other people to find (translations of Gnommish in Artemis Fowl, for example) and the stains on books give them character. When you open a book, memories of what you were doing and where you were when you last read it flood back to you. When I open my copy of Catching Fire, for example, I remember the sound of drunk twenty-somethings singing Lady Gaga off-tune on a beautiful beach in Mexico. I even still have sand in the book! I’m pretty sure technology + sand = disaster.

    Well I hadn’t intended on a rant, but I really do prefer physical books.

    1. Phew! Thanks Carrie! Funny you should mention scribbling in books, because that’s something I’ve (re)discovered recently, and it feels so mischievous, but why not?

  53. I like to hold a book and listen to the soft sound of the pages turning.
    A great comfort, books are like friends.
    I spend enough time on the computer. I don’t want to read an entire book on a screen.

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